Last Updated: July 12, 2022 by Flora Gibbins
An African dwarf frog and betta make excellent tank mates. This is one of my favorite combinations because I find it’s usually successful, doesn’t require a large tank, and is fun to watch.
Sometimes even the best combinations don’t work, a betta can be too aggressive to live with an African dwarf frog and some dwarf frogs can chew on the long delicate fins of male betta fish. Let’s find out how you can meet the needs of and keep both these species together and happy.
- What Should I Know About The African Dwarf Frog
- Setup And Enrichment
- Caring For Your Pets
- Common Illnesses For Betta Fish and Dwarf Frogs
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
What Should I Know About The African Dwarf Frog
African dwarf frogs are fully aquatic frogs that get no bigger than 2.5 inches, making them similar in size to a betta fish.
Dwarf frogs are often confused with African clawed frogs which get much larger and are vicious predators. Never put an African clawed frog with a betta or the betta will become frog food.
To tell the difference between an African clawed frog and an African dwarf frog just look at the front feet, if it has webbing it is a dwarf frog. As they get older the difference will become quite obvious based on the size and shape of the body as well as the shape of the front hands.
The African dwarf frog has poor eyesight and is slow to react to food. When living with fish, you need to make sure that your frog is eating enough food.
Because frogs need to surface to breathe it is best if your tank is 10 – 12 inches deep and never more than 16 inches deep.
If your tank is too deep you can pile up enough substrate so that nowhere is more than 16 inches deep then use hardscaping and plants to give the frogs resting places closer to the surface.
African dwarf frogs are social creatures and are happiest when they are around their own species so you should never keep just one African dwarf frog.
Setup And Enrichment
There are lots of great options for decoration and enrichment. Both bettas and dwarf frogs love places near the top to rest on and places to hide, live plants can provide both and will help keep the water clean.
Water Parameters And Tank Size
African dwarf frogs and bettas enjoy almost the same water parameters and both the frog and betta are commonly kept in tanks under 5 gallons.
The temperature should be 78f (26c) and should never go higher than 80f or lower than 75f. Ph should stay between 6.5 and 7.5. I keep my tanks with these two species close to neutral ph with some tannins in the water.
Bigger is better for tank size, just keep in mind you don’t want it to be too deep for the frogs, they get tired from constantly having to surface for air. 16 inches is a maximum depth.
I think a 20-gallon long is a perfect size for several frogs and a betta, you might even have room for other tank mates.
The minimum tank size for me is usually 10 gallons. If you have an odd non-standard size aquarium you could probably get away with anything that’s 6.5 gallons or bigger. Never use an aquarium that is smaller than 10 gallons and more than 11 inches deep.
The reason small aquariums need to be shorter is that a shorter aquarium means more surface area which is important because all of your animals like to hang out at the top.
A 10-gallon tank can fit 1 betta fish and 2 – 4 dwarf frogs depending on the temperament of your betta. With African dwarf frogs, the general rule is 2 gallons of water per frog, when housing them with a betta, I factor the betta as 1 – 3 frogs worth of space, depending on the temperament of the betta and how well your tank is set up.
African dwarf frogs and betta fish are both known for jumping out of their tanks, so you should make sure you have a lid on your aquarium.
What Goes In The Tank
For substrate anything will do but try to use something relatively smooth or soft, bettas and frogs both like to lay down on the bottom and jagged gravel can discourage this behavior or sometimes even hurt your pets.
I recommend something like an inert plant and shrimp substrate, smooth river stones, or sand. If you plan to use plants that feed heavily from the roots, the plant and shrimp substrates or a Walstad tank are the best options.
Hardscaping And Plants
Hardscaping can consist of caves and rocks and driftwood, anything that gives places to hide in the middle and lower areas of the aquarium, and stuff to lay on in the middle and top sections. I like to include floating leaves and floating logs for the African dwarf frogs to lay on.
There are so many great plants for this combination, both species will enjoy any carpeting plants and moss to lay on and play in.
Anubias, java fern, dwarf water lily, tiger lotus, and betta bulbs are all great plants for putting at various levels underwater, any beginner to intermediate plant from your local fish store should be great.
The most important thing is plenty of floating plants and toys.
Your frogs will like to lay down with their heads sticking out of the water and your betta fish will want to be able to find places to feel alone at the surface so make sure you have plenty of enrichment at and near the top of your tank. Great floating plants include hornwort, guppy grass, frogbit, water sprite, water lettuce, and hygrophila.
Filtration And Cleaning
Yes. Just a small biological filter is necessary, to keep the nitrogen cycle and prevent the water from becoming stagnant. Any filter will work as long as it has enough bio-media and flow for the size of tank you are using.
Remember to do regular maintenance like gravel vacuuming, water changes, and cleaning your filter. This will help ensure your African dwarf frogs and betta fish are happy and healthy as well as keep your tank looking good.
Caring For Your Pets
Anytime you keep betta fish with a tank mate you should watch them closely to make sure that your betta isn’t overly aggressive towards its tank mates and that the tank mates don’t nibble on your betta’s fin or stress out the betta fish too much.
African dwarf frogs are no exception, so keep a close eye on your betta tank and be ready to act if necessary.
When feeding your African dwarf frogs and betta fish you will need to make sure that the frogs get enough to eat but also make sure not to overfeed too much.
Frogs react slowly to their food and take their time eating it, this paired with very poor eyesight meansyou should take special care to make sure your frogs get enough food if your African dwarf frogs have fish as tank mates.
I put food directly above the betta fish and once my betta is eating I start to spot feed directly in front of and on top of my African dwarf frogs. Usually, this keeps the betta distracted long enough that the dwarf frogs start eating and everyone gets enough food.
Some people hand-feed African dwarf frogs with a pipette or aquarium tweezers and others suggest using a tank divider to separate the African dwarf frogs from the betta while feeding. These steps might be necessary if you notice one or more of your African dwarf frogs is not getting enough to eat.
African dwarf frogs can eat betta food, they are omnivores that like a high protein diet just like bettas. Slow sinking pellets are great for both of them.
Dwarf frogs can also eat fast sinking pellets and betta can also eat floating pellets if you want to get them separate food, this can also be a good way of keeping the betta from out-competing the African dwarf frogs. Both will eat most flaked food as well, they are not picky eaters.
You should ensure a varied diet and high-quality food.
Both bettas and African dwarf frogs love to eat live and frozen food as a treat. Brine shrimp, blackworms, blood worms, daphnia, and scud are all good live food for both species. If you raise African dwarf frogs and bettas from a young age or breed them, live food is necessary otherwise it can just be an occasional healthy treat for your pets.
Fun Fact: Are you familiar with the cory catfish? No? Read our article covering Cory Catfish And Betta: Cozy Partners or Tickly Companions for more information about the former!
Common Illnesses For Betta Fish and Dwarf Frogs
Stress can cause fish and dwarf frogs to get sick and most of those illnesses are contagious. Keep your pets happy and watch for signs of stress and discomfort, sometimes you will need more plants or places to hide, and other times you might have to separate your fish.
Having Indian almond leaves and tannins in the water goes a long way in helping prevent most illnesses so I always recommend having driftwood and Indian almond leaves in your aquarium.
The most common illness in bettas is fin rot, if you notice damage to your betta’s fin and know nothing is chewing on it then you should consider treating your betta or whole tank for fin rot. Fin rot is especially common in male betta fish.
There are other illnesses your betta fish can get so if you notice anything out of the ordinary investigate the symptoms and act accordingly.
Whenever my bettas get sick regardless of illness I put them in a betta tank with a temperature of 82f and 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water and enough Indian almond leaves to make the water brown. This fixes most problems within a few days.
African dwarf frogs are known to get dropsy, which is extremely contagious and usually deadly. If you notice your African dwarf frog is bloated and not interested in food you should quarantine him immediately and treat all of the frogs.
Frogs can also get other infections so if something seems wrong don’t hesitate to quarantine and investigate the symptoms.
Fun Fact: Bettas are quite a combo-magnet for other species. After reading this article, try visiting our post on Cherry Shrimp And Betta: Dos And Donts For Living Together for more interesting betta tidbits!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if my African dwarf frog and betta don’t get along?
Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t keep your pets in the same tank as planned. If you notice any injury, illness, or excessive fighting you should separate the involved animals.
Perhaps put your betta fish in your quarantine tank until you have a more permanent solution or use a tank divider to separate them.
Can other fish live with my African dwarf frogs and betta fish?
If your tank is large enough and has enough enrichment you can keep other peaceful fish of similar size with dwarf frogs and bettas.
You don’t want any fish that will nibble on your betta’s fin or that will attack your frogs. It is also important to make sure that your fish will not out-compete your frog for food.
Some good tank mates are neon tetras, ember tetras, harlequin rasbora, and celestial pearl danios. I keep shrimp, snails, kuhli loaches, and pygmy corydoras in my betta and frog tank, and there are many other great options available.
Usually, African dwarf frogs make great betta tank mates.
The most important thing when keeping African dwarf frogs and betta in the same tank is to always make sure that your dwarf frogs get enough to eat and that all of your animals can relax near the top or hide wherever they want.
Do that and keep an eye on your betta fish and African dwarf frog and you should not have any problems that you are not ready to deal with.